Ever wonder why you instantly feel better during a rough day at work after you head outside for a walk in the park or sit in an outdoor patio for lunch enjoying the soft breeze blowing through the trees and the bubbling of a nearby water feature?
Well-documented research from Roger Ulrich, a professor and director of the Center for Health Systems and Design at Texas A&M University, has been proving the therapeutic benefits of landscapes and gardens on people. He found that viewing natural scenes fostered stress recovery by evoking positive feelings and reducing negative emotions and thoughts.
His research also showed that surgical patients with views of nature had shorter postoperative stays, fewer negative comments from nurses, took less pain medication and experienced fewer minor postoperative complications than those with views of brick walls.
Ah, the power of a beautiful landscape. In a sense, any garden can be a healing garden. But there are gardens designed specifically for making people feel better. These healing or wellness gardens can be found on any commercial property, but many times they are seen outside hospitals or wellness facilities or as part of children’s or botanical gardens.
Let’s take a look at the features that can make a garden a healing environment.
What Is A Healing Garden?
Believe it or not, gardens have been used in the healing process throughout history (think J
apanese Zen gardens). The use of gardens for healing diminished with advances in medical technology, but the recent interest in alternative therapies, which emphasizes healing the whole person—mind, body and spirit—rather than simply alleviating symptoms has brought this trend back, according to research at the University of Minnesota.
The overall goal of a healing garden is to make people feel safe, less stressed, more comfortable and even invigorated by the outdoors. It must be functional, maintainable, environmentally sound and visually pleasing, the University of Minnesota reports.
In some cases, entire hospital campuses—versus just one space—are being transformed into areas that are conducive to healing.
How Do Healing Gardens Work?
A thoughtful, therapeutic garden will have places for contemplation, inspiration and renewal.
A healing garden is a place for people to go outside of the confines of a building, such as a hospital, so they can escape for just a moment from this often frightening environment full of white uniforms, medicine and fluorescent lights.
Safety and accessibility are paramount in wellness garden designs so everyone can have access to all of the landscape features. Beyond that, the options are limitless in terms of having a place for passive or active recovery. Many healing gardens will touch on all of the senses to create a peaceful space—the bold, bright colors of blooms; soft, floral scents; the soft trickling sound of a water feature; and various textures used throughout the space from hard patio stones to smooth plant leaves to pointy ornamental grass blades.
Therapeutic gardens also always incorporate various places to sit and/or walk so people can truly enjoy the space and take in all sights, sounds and sensory experiences.
Need to Create a Place for Healing? We Can Help
HighGrove Partners would be happy to meet with you to discuss ideas for incorporating the perfect wellness or healing garden into your landscape space. Give us a call at 678-298-0550 or use our simple contact form.
Image credit: Stuart Miles for FreeDigitalPhotos